Work continues after California budget and election reform victories

150 150 Ed Coghlan

(Photo Credit: Patrick Herbert/Flickr)

Last week turned out to be a good one for California political reform and direct democracy.

Early in the week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on an Arizona case that upheld the constitutionality of the state’s independent redistricting commission. California and Arizona are part of a handful of states that has taken the power to draw political districts out of the hands of elected officials and given it to a citizen panel.

Californians actually approved the idea twice. In 2008, voters passed Proposition 11, which created citizens redistricting commission for state legislative districts. In 2010, they also passed Proposition 20, which added drawing Congressional districts to the commission’s duties.

California’s era of reform continued last November when voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 2, which mandates capturing more revenue for the state’s budget reserve while paying down state budget debt.

Prop 2 is already paying dividends.

On Friday, Standard and Poor’s Rating Services raised its rating on California general obligation (GO) debt to AA- from A+. It also raised its rating on the state’s general fund annual appropriation-secured debt to A+ from A. Standard and Poor said that the outlook on both ratings is stable.

S&P credit analyst Gabriel Petek praised the state’s recently passed budget, and in particular, the actions that left the state with $4.6 billion in surplus and the paying down of $1.85 billion in general fund debt that had been incurred during prior years.

The events last week showed California two things: Reforms are working, but there’s much more to be done.

CA Fwd is continuing its work as a catalyst for a better California, working on policies that help grow more middle-class jobs and addressing workforce, infrastructure and housing needs. CA Fwd’s California Economic Summit will convene in Ontario November 12-13, 2015. 

As CA Fwd CEO Jim Mayer told the recent Growing the Impact Economy meeting in San Francisco, “It’s time to solve problems.”

The California Economic Summit released this year the Roadmap to a Shared Prosperity, which emphasized economic development with an eye toward the triple bottom line of creating good middle class jobs, respecting the environment and improving opportunity for all.

Mayer used the number “one million” to make his point:

  • To address the state’s workforce issues, we need one million more bachelor degrees and one million more middle skills jobs than the system currently provides.
  • To address California’s housing needs, we need to build one million more houses for low and middle class families closer to where they work and in a more sustainable manner.
  • To address the state’s water crisis, we are currently overspending (using) 10 million acre feet of water a year. We need to recapture and store more than one million acre feet per year.

Yes, reform had a good week last week. But the reform work, you see, never ends.


Ed Coghlan

All stories by: Ed Coghlan